Council Members Propose Temporary Homeless Shelter At Former Chargers Facility

Monday, November 6, 2017
By City News Service, Matt Hoffman
Photo by Kris Arciaga / KPBS
Above: The former Chargers training facility in Murphy Canyon, San Diego, Nov. 6, 2017.

Two members of the San Diego City Council proposed Monday that the former Chargers training facility in Murphy Canyon be used for a temporary shelter for the homeless.

Council members Lorie Zapf and David Alvarez said they will ask that a shelter be erected at the site along Murphy Canyon Road, not far from SDCCU Stadium, because it's owned by the city and has sat unused since the Chargers moved to Los Angeles County.

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The facility is included in some of the proposals for redeveloping the stadium site, but it's likely to remain vacant for at least a couple of years. However, Alvarez said no actual proposal is before city officials now.

Zapf and Alvarez said there's been "an explosion of homeless encampments" along the nearby San Diego River. They called the situation "an environmental nightmare" that could prove dangerous with the approach of the rainy season.

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Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents Mission Valley, has referred numerous times in public statements to the discovery in April of a trash-filled encampment beside the river that included a bicycle chop-shop, stolen items and human waste.

Sherman did not attend today's news conference in Murphy Canyon. His office told KPBS they are working on a separate, more cost efficient temporary solution. A spokesman said they are working with Mayor Kevin Faulconer to use a vacant parking lot as a temporary solution across from SDCCU Stadium and near Fire Station 45.

Council member Alvarez said tents, like the industrial tents set to go up downtown soon, are not the answer.

"$6.5 million it’s going to cost from actual housing solutions that the mayor is taking away and giving to those large tents, that are going to cost more than $5,000 a month for a family of four," Alvarez said. "You can find apartments in almost the whole of San Diego for half the cost.”

In a statement, Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Office said, "Charger Park does not have direct access to transit or other homeless services, but once the temporary bridge shelters are operational the Mayor will assess how things are going and we may consider other locations for homeless services."

Last month, volunteers with the San Diego River Park Foundation counted more than 100 homeless encampments along the waterway, almost double the amount tallied last year.

There have also been recent anecdotal reports of homeless people driven out of downtown San Diego as the city and county took steps to deal with a hepatitis A outbreak, migrating north to the river.